I've heard it said that the problems with families today is that they don't know Jesus. With that in mind, I decided to look up Jesus's teachings on the family. Luke and Matthew both have some memories on that subject to share with us. In Luke 12:51-53, Jesus says:
51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Are those words not a bit harsh! Was Luke hitting the bottle on that day? Did he write things down incorrectly? Well, perhaps not, for Matthew remembers the same thing. According to Matthew 10:34-36, Jesus said:
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
Different words but the same meaning. So then, how am I to follow the word of Jesus? What division is Jesus talking about? Is this a mathematical problem or is he dividing families? If it's families that will be against each other, could we just play something nice like touch football? Or maybe team Monopoly? How about dueling banjos?
Must I always have three against two? Could I not even the sides up by inviting another into this fracas? What do I do if my family consists of more or less than five? What about the father-in-law? Why is it that he is apparently allowed to escape unscathed? Can he not join in to make it three against three? Or does Jesus consider him untouchable? Can I maybe invite some other in-laws? Could I perhaps get some cousins to wait on the sidelines in case someone needs a bathroom break? Am I allowed wildcard players?
What about the mother? Why has she been given the worst deal? She has not only the daughter against her, but the mother-in-law as well! Must the rivalry always be divided along the lines of gender? Jesus has dictated that it shall be females against females and males against males, but are we allowed to make deals and trade players from time to time? Can we have some days when it's father against daughter and mother against son? Could the mother-in-law sort of play the field, helping the underdog?
But what about this sword that Jesus will send? Will it be one of those soft, styrofoam ones? Or will it be a rapier or a sabre, or possibly something heavy like a longsword? Should it be the latter and it prove too heavy for someone like the mother-in-law, can I use a designated hitter?
Couldn't someone get hurt if it's a real sword? Is that the whole idea? Luke seems to remember Jesus saying something else, in Chapter 14 Verse 26:
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Won't all that hatred ruin the Monopoly game? How can I make a deal about Park Place with someone who hates me? Must I hate everyone at the same time? Can I even things out by loathing one and therefore just being piqued with another? Do I have to hate the players on my own team too? How can I plan any strategy with my daughter-teammate if I know she hates me? Maybe she's planning some strategy against me? And what if I hate my son and take a sword to him? Will that be child abuse or is there a religious exemption? Is Jesus saying that spanking is cool? How is a victor determined? Is it last man standing? Are those killed in these family feuds dictated by Jesus granted automatic entry into heaven?
And what about hating my own life? Must I hate myself, or just the life? Must I hate it to the point of taking it? If we all want to take our lives to be Jesus's disciples, then isn't this advocating mass suicide of the whole human race? Is this how it's all supposed to end? Is this the only way to be a disciple of Jesus? Were Peter and all those others full of hatred too? Is that why they couldn't agree and allowed Paul (Saul) to take over? But if I hate my life, why would I care if it's saved by Jesus? Is this not a paradox?